The Hollywood Reporter has released the first installment of its new, weekly web series focusing on awards season. Hosted by THR awards analyst Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporters calls upon the publication’s reporters and editors to share their thoughts on different aspects of the race.
This week, Feinberg was joined by news director Matt Belloni and senior editor Stacey Wilson, both of whom shared their thoughts on the best picture field for the 85th Academy Awards.
Wilson painted the race as one between studio films and independent features, saying both camps have a nearly equal number of contenders this season. Wilson named The Master, Silver Linings Playbook and Beasts of the Southern Wild as among the top indie contenders and Warner Bros.' Argo and Universal’s Les Miserables on the studio side.
“The last studio movie to win was actually The Departed,” Wilson said. “That could change this year.”
Belloni spoke of the role box office success might play into the race, arguing that Lincoln’s hit status bodes well for its chances.
“Oscar voters, as much as they like to reward quality, there’s also a populist element here. If a movie is good, and has the pedigree, and also does well at the box office, it only helps the awards chances,” Belloni said. “This movie had Oscar all over it from the beginning. … All the movie had to do was be good and be popular, and it’s both.”
Feinberg added that modest box office returns don’t necessarily put a best picture statue out of reach, citing recent wins by The Hurt Locker and The Artist. Belloni said Beasts of the Southern Wild is in a similar situation this season, with people in the industry loving director Benh Zeitlin’s film even as it has failed to find a mainstream audience.
“You’re going to see it pop up on all of these end-of-the-year ‘best of’ critics lists. It’s going to be a big player come awards time,” Belloni said.
According to Belloni, there are five films that appear to be locks for best picture nominations: Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Misérables, Argo and Silver Linings Playbook. Asked which films could be joining them, Wilson named The Impossible, Hitchcock and Amour, winner of the Palme d'Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Watch the video above.